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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December, 2004, 18:24 GMT
Drunken revellers face 80 fines
Generic office party
The crackdown coincides with the busiest night for office parties
Drunken revellers caught misbehaving face on-the-spot fines during a festive crackdown on binge drinking in 188 communities across the country.

Police in England and Wales will be handing out 80 fines to people caught fighting, urinating or being sick in the street, the government has warned.

They will also target groups intimidating or alarming the public.

In a separate move, mobile hospitals have been set up in some Welsh cities to treat festive drinking casualties.

Fines increased

The nationwide campaign is being launched by the Home Office on Friday - the busiest night of the year for Christmas parties - and will run until 3 January.

A similar crackdown in the summer saw more than 5,600 arrests, but the Christmas campaign targets more than double the number of city centres.

There should not be an excuse for violent and anti-social behaviour by a minority, spoiling enjoyment for everyone else
Hazel Blears,
Home Office minister

Penalty notices for drunk and disorderly behaviour have been increased from 50 to 80, and bars and pubs which sell alcoholic drinks to minors risk losing their licences.

Sting operations, used against 2,000 premises in the summer, will also be launched over Christmas and patrols of known troublespots will be stepped up.

Paul Evans, head of the Police Standards Unit, warned irresponsible drinkers and retailers that "there will be consequences".

"This is a period where people tend to drink more - we are not being Grinches or killjoys, but we want this to be a safe holiday season," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Tony Blair's government has promised to get tough on binge drinking, but it continues to spiral out of control
David Davis
Shadow Home Secretary

Licensing minister Richard Caborn said the message was "stark and simple".

"We're not messing around - we want decent, law-abiding people to be able to get home safely from their Christmas and New Year's parties," he said.

But the Conservatives said previous government crackdowns had been ineffective and drink-related violence had continued to rise.

"Tony Blair's government has promised to get tough on binge drinking, but it continues to spiral out of control," said Shadow Home Secretary David Davis.

"And whilst the problem gets worse, they are planning to let pubs and clubs open 24 hours a day."

'No complacency'

Home Office minister Hazel Blears said the campaign to curb alcohol-fuelled violence and sales to minors last summer had been successful.

HAVE YOUR SAY
I pity the poor policeman who has to try and get an 80 fine out of a drunken, vomiting 18 year old
Peter, Nottingham

She added that levels of serious violence had gone down in the areas affected by the crackdown, and that the alcohol industry had been induced to abandon "all you can drink" promotions.

"But we are not complacent, we know there are still widespread and serious problems," she added.

"There should not be an excuse for violent and anti-social behaviour by a minority, spoiling enjoyment for everyone else."

In Cardiff and Swansea mobile casualty units and rapid-response teams of paramedics are being set up on Friday - the last Friday before offices close for Christmas.

The units will also hit the streets on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

In the summer, police issued 4,081 fixed penalty notices, arrested 5,658 people and seized alcohol from 3,292 under-18s.




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